Much fun for four to eight year old is promised at a concert and workshop on Saturday called Carnival of the Animals.
As part of the Bank of Cyprus’ Moments at the Museum series, it will feature piano duo Leoni Hadjithoma and Borislav Alexandrov presenting a funny, entertaining and educational programme for children with the well-known work of composer Camille Saint-Saëns The Carnival at the Museum. Music, movement, theatre and improvisation are the key words for what could be the loveliest and liveliest musical parade ever to have taken place at the Archaeological museum of the cultural foundation.
The work was composed by Saint-Saëns in February 1886 while he was on holiday in an Austrian village. Originally created for chamber orchestra consisting of flute, piccolo, clarinet, two pianos, xylophone and two violins, viola, cello, double bass and glass harmonica, nowadays it is usually played by a symphony orchestra and a Glockenspiel takes the place of the rare glass harmonica. From the beginning, Saint-Saëns regarded the work as a piece of fun. In February he wrote to his publishers Durand in Paris that he was composing a work for the coming Shrove Tuesday and confessing that he knew he should be working on his Third Symphony, he said this was though “such fun”.
He believed the project would damage his reputation as a serious composer and did not allow it to be played in public during his lifetime. Only close friends such as Liszt had the opportunity to hear the entire project. He left instructions that it could be played in public after his death and it was performed for the first time publicly in February 1922. Since then is has become one of his most famous works. It is also a favourite of teachers who work with small children.
As the title suggests, the work follows a zoological programme and progresses from the first movement, ‘Introduction et marche royale du lion’, through portraits of elephants and donkeys (‘Those with long ears’) to a finale reprising many of the earlier motifs. Several of the movements are of humorous intent.
Saint-Saëns was a musical prodigy, making his concert debut at the age of ten. After studying at the Paris Conservatoire he followed a conventional career as a church organist first at Saint-Merri, Paris and from 1858 at La Madeleine, the official church of the French Empire. After leaving the post 20 years later, he was a successful freelance pianist and composer, in demand in France, mainland Europe, Britain and the Americas.
His students included Gabriel Fauré, among whose own later pupils was Maurice Ravel. Both of them were strongly influenced by Saint-Saëns, whom they revered as a genius.
The Carnival of the Animals
Entertaining and interactive programme for children from 4-8 with piano duo Leoni Hadjithoma and Borislav Alexandrov. February 18. Bank of Cyprus Cultural Foundation Nicosia. 3pm and 4.30pm. Free. Tel: 22-128182